The day a 10-year-old boy was mauled to death by an escaped lion in a Lincolnshire market town

It's a tragic story that seems too incredulous to be true.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 21st June 2018, 3:22 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th June 2018, 12:12 pm

Only 40 years ago, a young child was savaged and killed by a lion that had escaped from a circus on Bonfire Night in the quiet country town of Gainsborough in Lincolnshire, just a few miles from the South Yorkshire border.

Is there a big cat lurking on Ilkley Moor?The Gainsborough Standard reported that in November 1975, five lions which belonged to Roberts Brothers' Circus managed to get free and escape from the tunnel that led to the main arena.

Big cats in Yorkshire: A history of sightingsMost were recaptured quickly after attacking the circus's horses, but one was at large for over an hour, during which it chased 10-year-old Steven Jackson-Parr into some allotments and killed him.

It was thought that the animals had panicked after being frightened by firework displays.

The tragedy led to circuses being banned from the town for decades out of respect for the boy's family. It was only in 2006 that a circus was allowed to return on the provision that no animals were involved in the show.

Gainsborough residents sharing their memories of the incident on the town's heritage forum recall that although local people were in shock, the tragedy barely made the national newspapers.